Southern Baptists to Enhance Partnership with Evangelicals in Europe

Delegates from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the United States have held a meeting with the evangelical Baptist representatives from European countries last weekend in Poland. The aim was to explore ways for more effective partnership in evangelism, church planting and theological education, according to the Baptist Press.

Despite the rift between the SBC and the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) last year, the American and European Baptist bodies have shown enthusiasm in their hearts as they united together for the sake of the propagation of the Gospel.

O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources of the SBC and moderator of the meeting, said to the Baptist Press, "We could not have anticipated a more positive meeting. The men with whom we met are outstanding Christians whose faith has been tested beyond our comprehension."

Twelve European Baptists coming from Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Moldovia, Poland and Romania, took part in the meeting on 1st-2nd July in Warsaw, Poland. Some of them are from Baptist seminaries as well.

In conclusion of the meeting, a joint statement was drawn and released to the Baptist Press on 5th July. It states that participants advocated "the inerrancy of the Bible, the absolute lordship of Christ and the recovery of historic Baptist doctrine," and they discussed "common causes and concerns about the rapid expansion of evangelism and church planting."

According to the statement, some European Baptists suggested sustaining partnership not only on mission but also on theological education. "Several Europeans emphasised the need for Southern Baptists to continue with involvement through cooperative efforts in ministerial training."

Sensitive questions were aroused concerning the relationship between the SBC and the BWA. SBC representatives explained some of the reasons for the move and emphasised their intention "not to focus on criticism of the BWA but only to encourage common projects and fellowship among likeminded Baptists."

Paul Negrut, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Oradea, Romania, who believes that "many European Baptists share the concerns of Southern Baptists in evangelism, church planting and theological education" and therefore he initiates this meeting.

The meeting was also considered as an impetus for the Southern Baptist Convention, which represents most of the evangelicals in the US, to build a network of conservative Baptists around the world.

The Baptist Press has reported that Poland’s meeting is the first of several exploratory gatherings to be held in various locations worldwide for the Southern Baptist delegates.

"The longer we met, the more you could sense a growing enthusiasm in the hearts of everyone in the meeting," Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, told Baptist Press. "The possibility of building a fellowship network of conservative Baptists around the world created a genuine and heartfelt excitement.

"This meeting may prove in time to have been the inaugural meeting of a network that shall extend to every corner of the earth, creating a close fellowship among likeminded conservative Christians," he said.

Apart from Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee and O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources of the SBC, other SBC representatives included Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Theological Seminary; Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board; R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Craig Blaising, provost of Southwestern Seminary; Paul Pressler, a retired Houston judge; and Bill Wagner, a professor of evangelism at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.